Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Steen falls short in MP bid

As former Winnipeg Jets go, Thomas Steen is way, way up there in terms of notoriety. He put up the second most points in franchise history (817) and is the only Swedish player to have his number retired.

Given his popularity in the city, even all these years later, a career in politics makes sense.

The former Jets captain ran for the Conservative Party in yesterday's federal election in the Winnipeg riding of Elmwood-Transcona, and despite being a huge underdog to veteran Manitoba politician Jim Maloway, came within 1,702 votes of the NDP candidate.

Not bad for an upstart rookie.

Steen had made his case for election on his personal website, which is long on hockey references and short on political platforms:
For many years I have called Winnipeg my home. I first moved here in 1981 to play hockey for the Winnipeg Jets. It was an honour to represent an organization where you could feel the community support simply by walking down the street. During my fourteen seasons with the team I had the privilege of serving as team captain, a role that will serve me well as I attempt to make the transition to political office.

Following my hockey career I chose to remain in Winnipeg and become a Canadian citizen.
The riding was considered an NDP stronghold, held by Bill Blaikie since 1979, and the Tories had apparently been asking Steen to use his star power to try and win the seat for quite some time.

Steen's son Alex, a member of the Maple Leafs, offered his support on the weekend. Sort of:
"I'm not too involved in it, but obviously, I support him as a son."
Steen had the support of a few other former Jets on the campaign trail, with Bobby Hull and Dale Hawerchuk lending their names to the cause. Steen had been a pro scout with the Coyotes until resigning to try his hand at politics.

His performance at the polls is a pretty strong testament to the pro-Jets feelings still out there given his obvious shortcomings on the campaign trail:
Then there's Steen, who only answered questions when he had a tabbed page in his briefing binder he could flip to for a pre-written answer. When he didn't have one, he either declined to speak or apologized with an "I'm new at this." He read virtually every word he uttered, with a bemused and gentle smile.

He is by all accounts and appearances a lovely and honourable gentleman — he made a bee line for Maloway after the debate to shake his hand. But he is radically out of his depth, muzzled by his party and unfamiliar with the issues.
Hey, it's worked elsewhere.

Hockey and politics go hand in hand in Canada, and I'm actually surprised this doesn't happen more often. Doug Gilmour or Wendel Clark would be shoo-ins in Toronto-area ridings, as would someone like Trevor Linden in Vancouver or Lanny McDonald in Calgary.

At least there'll always be Ken Dryden.
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13 Comments:

At 10:47 AM, October 15, 2008, Blogger Ghwomb said...

"...the only Swedish player to have his number retired."

I believe Börje Salming had his number raised to the rafter a couple of years back. Since Toronto allow their players to wear those number, it isn't strictly retired. But they both recieved the same honour, didn't they?

 
At 10:51 AM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous ken said...

"Prime Minister Wendel."

I'm already smiling. Let's make it happen.

 
At 11:13 AM, October 15, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

Don't forget about Senator Big M.

Unless a player feels a tremendous personal duty/responsibility for public service, I don't know why they'd bother potentially tarnishing their perceptions in the public arena. Lord knows the recently retired ones don't need a MP's salary.

Although I am surprised that I can't think of any ex-CFL players who have made that step. They could actually use that money.

 
At 12:12 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger Doogie2K said...

Although I am surprised that I can't think of any ex-CFL players who have made that step.

Norman Kwong is Alberta's lieutenant-governor.

 
At 1:30 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger Schitzo said...

Not just Kwong, I understand there was this Getty guy who was Premier for a while.

 
At 1:32 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger Steve said...

Although I am surprised that I can't think of any ex-CFL players who have made that step.

Two of Alberta's Premiers - Peter Lougheed and Don Getty - were former Eskimos. Former Eskimo Bill Smith was mayor of Edmonton for nine years. Don Luzzi ran in the Alberta provincial election in 1971, but was defeated. And if I'm not terribly mistaken, some former Bombers great who I've never personally heard of was running in this very federal election.

As for Clarke and co. being shoe-ins, I disagree: I think most Canadians (sadly) believe in voting the party, so while the star power of a hockey great might make the difference in a close riding, generally speaking it wouldn't.

 
At 1:43 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger Steve said...

As well, Lionel Conacher - who won both the Grey Cup and the Stanley Cup back in the 1920s and 1930s - had a pretty illustrious political career.

I'll stop now. But, in summary, there have almost certainly been more CFL players than NHL players to enter politics.

 
At 1:56 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

As for Clarke and co. being shoe-ins, I disagree: I think most Canadians (sadly) believe in voting the party, so while the star power of a hockey great might make the difference in a close riding, generally speaking it wouldn't.

Very true. If Clark and Gilmour run for the Conservatives in Toronto, they probably won't win. If they ran Liberal, yeah, they'd win.

I guess Alberta provincial politics is a hotbed for ex-CFLers. Still not much to show federally, though.

 
At 2:56 PM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ottawa QB J.C. Watts was a US Congressman.

 
At 3:00 PM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Red Kelly was an MP in Toronto while he was still an active NHLer.

 
At 7:07 PM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous jealous broadcaster said...

"future Stanley Cuppers"

- the latest 'Bush-ism'

Wow.

 
At 7:41 AM, October 16, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howie Meeker was also an MP while an active NHLer.

 
At 12:40 PM, October 16, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's GOOD that most Cdns vote according to party, rather than individual.. each party has its own philosophy & policies... I don't care how 'great' a person is, it is their party's policies that go into effect if they take power.

And most ex-pro atheletes are woefully unprepared to be politicians... zero schooling, zero training... especially millionaire ex-NHL'ers... how can they empathize with the avg person?

 

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